Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  February 2, 2013  / No comments

In the weekly Freedom of Speech Roundup, Sampsonia Way presents some of the week’s top news on freedom of expression, journalists in danger, artists in exile, and banned literature.

Zhu Ruifeng

Zhu Ruifeng, a Chinese journalist, featured on NTDTV for his involvement in bringing down Chinese officials in a political sex scandal

China: Police Hound Blogger Who Exposed Political Sex Scandal, Hackers Attack The New York Times

The Washington Post. Investigative blogger Zhu Ruifeng was questioned by police at his home on Sunday night until he agreed to further questioning the following day. On Monday he was interrogated for several hours and barred from leaving the police station. Allegedly, the police wanted further information concerning the tape Ruifeng released two months ago, which featured city officials engaged in sex with young women hired by a property developer. Read here.

New York Times. For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees. Fifty three reporters’ email accounts were also accessed. Read here.

Burma: Dissolves Censorship Office, Hosts First International Literary Festival

Asian Correspondent. Last week the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) of Burma, the office responsible for the press censorship, was shut down. Now the Copyrights and Registration Division has taken its place, and some of the old laws used to jail dissident writers remain on the books, but local authors say that for the most part, they can publish freely. Read here.

Dawn Entertainment. Over 100 international authors are attending Myanmar’s first annual Irrawaddy Literary Festival. Many writers, journalists and bloggers who were once persecuted for their work are now grateful to have government restrictions lessened since the closing of Myanmar’s censorship office in August. Books still must be sent to the government for approval before publication, but citizens are now gaining access to material from local authors they wouldn’t have been seen as little as a year ago. Read here.

Qatar Poet Appeal Becomes Test for Web Crackdowns

The Daily Star. Qatari poet Al-Ajami has been jailed since November 2011. He was arrested for posting a video on Facebook in which he recited a poem titled “Tunisian Jasmine” that focused on the country’s uprising. The case puts a spotlight on issues such as Qatar’s proposed new media laws, which give authorities wide leeway for arrests. Read here.

Interview: ‘Distant Witness’: Social Media’s ‘Journalism Revolution’

NPR. A new book by Andy Carvin titled Distant Witness: Social Media, the Arab Spring and a Journalism Revolution focuses on the blending of social media and journalism during the Arab Spring revolution. In an interview conducted by Neal Conan, Carvin, a strategist for NPR, explains the benefits of real time reporting and the hardships that come with verifying information. Listen here.


NPR’s Andy Carvin talks about covering the Arab Spring via social media. Follow him on Twitter here.

Video: Risk, Reward, and Loss in Syria

CPJ. The Committee to Protect Journalists remember some of the reporters, videographers, bloggers, freelancers, and photographers who have lost their lives covering the conflict in Syria. Watch here.

Iran: Free Journalists Swept Up in Raids

Human Rights Watch. Security forces in Tehran arrested several Iranian journalists who allegedly had connections to foreign media during a series of home raids. The journalists have been held for several days, but the actual criminal charges are unclear. The arrests have been seen as an attempt by the government to silence media before the presidential election in June. Read here.

BBC ‘Censored’ Play About Honor Killings

Telegraph. Playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti was asked by a BBC producer to remove lines from a Radio 4 drama called “Heart of Darkness” because they centered on the honor killing of a 16-year-old Muslim girl. Read here.

Map: Where Reporters Have The Least Freedom

The Washington Post. Reporters Without Borders has now released its 2013 World Press Freedom Report. The Washington Post has created a breakdown of countries in 2013 that have the least amount of free speech in the media. According to the report, much of South America and Africa have “noticeable problems.” Read here.

India Withdraws Charges Against Journalist Naveen Soorinje

CPJ. Police arrested Soorinje on November 7 in connection with his coverage of an attack on young women and men by a right-wing Hindu extremist group at a party in July. He remains in jail, but in a cabinet meeting this week, India’s home minister said Soorinje’s case had turned into an international embarrassment. Read here.

Interview with Salman Rushdie

CNN. Fareed Zakaria interviews Salman Rushdie about the climate of freedom of speech in India. Rushdie: “the correct response to a stupid film on Youtube is to say it’s a stupid film on Youtube, [and] get on with your life. So to take that and deliberately use it to inflame your troops, is a political act. That’s not about religion. That’s about power.” Read here.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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